7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The date was approximately AD 90. The Apostle John had advanced in age and was shepherding the churches through letters. John was concerned about imposters infiltrating the church and leading the flocks astray. Using wisdom gained from being close to Jesus and through many years of persecution, he wrote to the churches to impart foundational wisdom.
One purpose of his teaching was to develop discernment of truth in the believer. John was the last of the apostles, he wanted to ensure Christians could detect the lies of the false religious teachers of the day and discern the true teachers. He was teaching the early Christians to recognize attributes of God, of which a key attribute is His love. John, via the Holy Spirit, goes on to say that if a self-professed Christian does not love, they do not know God and are not really Christians. This is an indication of false teachers as they seek their own gain.
To hammer the point home John demonstrated just how deep and self-sacrificing God’s love truly is. His love is so great he sent His only son to take our place in punishment for our sins. Jesus stepped out of heaven and took on the role of a lowly bondservant, a willing slave, for us. Even more amazing is the fact that God loves us so deeply, He initiated this transaction. We don’t naturally want to seek Him, He first seeks us.
John wanted to ensure Christians understand fundamental truths:
- God embodies love.
- God’s love runs so deep He sacrificed His own son for us.
- We did not initiate the loving relationship we have with God, He did.
- True Christians demonstrate this same love towards one another.
Friends, we must learn who God is and what He has done for us. The end is near, just as there were false teachers 2000 years ago, there are many false religions and false teachers surrounding us today. We must strive for and recognize true believers by the love they embody in our Lord.